The Highway Code - updated

Feb 11, 2022

With road-related fatalities said to be on the rise, the Highway Code has undergone a review.

Between July and October 2020, the government held a public consultation, with improved road safety for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders front and centre. As a result, changes have been made to the Highway Code, with the new version aiming to bring greater clarity to the various needs and obligations of different road users. 

The government has drawn attention to eight of the changes we all need to know about. In summary:

1. The hierarchy of road users

In essence, road users who are most at risk in the event of a collision are placed at the top of the hierarchy. 

2. People crossing at junctions

The Code clarifies thattraffic should give way to people who are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction. It also makes clear that drivers, motorcycle riders and cyclists must give way to people on zebra crossings and parallel crossings.

3. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces

Cyclists, horse-riders and drivers of horse-drawn vehicles should respect the safety of walkers, and walkers should take care not to obstruct or endanger them. The Code sets out some parameters for cyclists, which include not passing walkers, horse-riders or horse-drawn vehicles closely or at high speed, especially from behind.

4. Cyclists’ positioning in the road

There is updated guidance about when it’s appropriate to ride in the centre of the lane, and how far from the kerb cyclists should ride on busy roads. It also covers passing parked vehicles, and cycling in groups.

5. Overtaking when driving or cycling

The Code deals with when a driver or cyclist may cross a double-white line, and safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking vulnerable road users, slower-moving or stationary traffic.  

6. People cycling at junctions

There’s now greater clarity about priorities: when a cyclist is turning into or out of a side road, they should give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross. The Code also includes guidance around using cycle traffic lights, and about how to turn right at junctions.

7. Cycling, horse-riding and driving horse-drawn vehicles at roundabouts

There is clarification around priorities, overtaking, and positioning on roundabouts.

8. Parking, charging and leaving vehicles

Brand new to this version of the Code is guidance on using electric vehicle charging points. It also recommends a technique for safely opening a car door, called the ‘Dutch Reach’, which means the driver or passenger looks over their shoulder and should be able to avoid opening the door into the path of others.

As lawyers who advise on motoring offences and personal injury, we would urge every road user to read the full Code for themselves. While the safe use of roads is the priority, avoiding criminal and civil liability for breaches of the Code should be high on everyone’s agenda too.

If you have any issue with a road traffic offence or wish to make a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident please contact one of our litigation team on 01264 353411 or at litigation@bsandi.co.uk.


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